MOUNT VERNON, VA. — For the first time since George Washington’s Distillery burned to the ground in 1814, the public lined up to taste and buy Rye Whiskey made at the Founding Father’s distillery during a spirits tasting event held today at Mount Vernon. Editors’ Note: Mount Vernon officials report that crowds of 400-500 showed up for the event today and all the bottles of George Washington’s Rye Whiskey sold.
The extremely limited edition run of 471 whiskey bottles was produced in the reconstructed distillery in 2009 according to the General’s own recipe discovered by historians in the mansion’s extensive records.
The public was able to sample small amounts before purchasing one of the unique 375 ml bottles for $85, with proceeds benefitting Mount Vernon’s education programs.
“This historic event allows the public to both taste and purchase George Washington’s actual Rye Whiskey recipe for the first time since 1814,” said Distilled Spirits Council President Peter Cressy, whose organization along with the Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America led the industry funding for the $2.1 million reconstruction of George Washington’s Distillery. “He was an amazing entrepreneur whose distilling operation rapidly became the largest in the early American Republic. That story had been lost in the mists of history. Today’s event helps to restore that legacy.”
George Washington’s Rye was distilled in February 2009 by Dave Pickerell, Master Distiller for Whistle Pig Distillery and formerly of Maker’s Mark. Pickerell followed Washington’s grain recipe, which was 60% rye, 35% corn and 5% malted barley.
Mount Vernon First to Hold Spirits Tasting in Commonwealth Under New Law
The public sampling event marked the first distilled spirits tasting in the Commonwealth since the repeal of Prohibition, under a new law signed by Governor Robert McDonnell, which went into effect today. The legislation modernized an outdated law that had only permitted beer and wine tastings by allowing pre-planned distilled spirits tastings events at Virginia Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC) stores. Mount Vernon received a special Virginia Alcohol Beverage Control store designation under legislation sponsored by Virginia State Senator Linda “Toddy” Puller, which was signed into law in 2007.
In September 2006, the then-Virginia Attorney General Robert McDonnell in cut the ribbon at the official dedication of the restored distillery.
Prior to the opening of the distillery, archaeologists at Mount Vernon spent five years excavating and researching the site. The reconstructed George Washington Distillery is the only site in North America where visitors can view 18th-century distilling from field to bottle.
The distillery and the second story museum are the Gateway to the American Whiskey Trail. (www.americanwhiskeytrail.org)
“The Demand…Is Brisk” – George Washington
(1799 Distillery Letter written to his nephew shortly before Washington’s death, discussing Washington’s successful distillery operation at Mount Vernon)